|A Phone Call Away
Author: Alex Kade PM
ATF: Read "In His Head" and "Go Home!" first if you want this to make sense! More drama and lots more humor with a rather inebriated Southern agent... All the boys are there, too!Rated: Fiction T - English - Humor/Hurt/Comfort - Ezra S. - Words: 5,196 - Reviews: 12 - Favs: 11 - Follows: 3 - Published: 01-03-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6620916
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Third installment in what I am now, after my last pun, calling the "Unarmed Series", lol. You should read "In His Head" and "Go Home!" before diving into this one. I realize I change up my styles a little bit from story to story - I hope that doesn't cause confusion for anyone!
This one's back to being from Ezra'a pov, from all different angles! We have phone conversations, inner thoughts, and narrative all wrapped up in what I hope is a fairly neat package... If I didn't pull it off (or better yet, if I did!), please let me know!
"Hey, beautiful, gimme just one minute and I'll be right down."
"…I presume you have a lunch date, Mr. Wilmington?"
"Oh, sorry, Ez. Thought you were Kyree. She's meetin' me downstairs."
"Ah. Then I shall not be responsible for keeping the lady waiting."
"...You need somethin'?"
"No, it's not important. Enjoy your date."
"You know I will. Talk to ya later."
"Mr. Dunne. I just wanted to inquire as to whether you had any particular plans for lunch?"
"Uh, actually, I kinda do. Casey 'n I are meetin' up at the arcade."
"I see. Well, give young Miss Wells my regards."
"Sure, Ez. Hey, maybe we can do lunch tomorrow?"
"That would be appreciated."
"Mm…sorry, mouth was full."
"So you are already indulging in your afternoon repast?"
"Yeah, gotta eat 'n run. The garage called. I can finally pick up the jeep."
"Congratulations. I shan't keep you, then."
"I'll swing by after work, take ya for a joy ride."
"I look forward to it."
"You've reached the phone of Agent Jackson. If you'd like to leave a message–"
"Ah, Mr. Sanchez. I had thought perhaps I missed you."
"Almost did. What can I do for you, brother?"
"Well, I was hoping-"
"Oh, hold on, Ezra, Nathan's calling on the other line….Hey, I'm gonna have to call you back in a bit."
"Is there trouble?"
"Nope. I've just been informed that Riley's is having a one hour special on their chili-cheese dogs."
"Ha! Then you had best get down there before they run out."
"I plan to. I'll call you later."
"Mr. Larabee. I didn't actually expect to reach you. Are you not taking advantage of the lunch hour?"
"That's exactly what I'm doing. It's the only hour of the day I can get some work done in peace."
"Oh...I should cease being a disturbance, then."
"You're not disturbin' me, Ez. You need help with anything?"
"'Need' is too strong a word. I was simply tiring of my limited options in sustenance and was hoping that perhaps one of you gentleman could…uh…assist me in consuming something more substantial."
"Hell, Ezra, wish you'd called earlier. By the time I get there I'd have to turn around and come back."
"Of course, I apologize. I was not paying attention to the time."
"How 'bout I come over for dinner tonight?"
"I appreciate the sentiment, but it's unnecessary. Mr. Tanner has already offered to take me out."
"All right. Call me if you need anything else."
"I will. Thank you, Mr. Larabee."
"End call," he sighed into his new, fully voice-activated blue tooth earpiece. The boys had bought it for him the day after the incident with the Hamil brothers and now, a week later, it had become a part of his anatomy. It was one of the few things he could use without resorting to further abuse of his teeth, which had become a primary tool since the entrapment of both his arms.
*sigh* Still three weeks to go.
It should have only been one more week, but thanks to the Hamil brothers and his own rash actions, he had added two more full weeks to what he considered to be a personal prison sentence. Not that he was forced to remain in the confines of his home, by any means. He was free to come and go as he pleased and sometimes spent a few hours hanging around the office just to have some company; though his previous insistence to work had all but disappeared as lack of sleep over the last week took it's toll. He was having a harder and harder time sticking to the doctor's orders to keep his arms stationary against his body; the lack of movement was beginning to make him feel a bit suffocated.
He slid his bandaged right arm out from its cradle, wincing as the motion pulled at the still-healing tendon in his elbow. Sucking in a breath, he very slowly proceeded to run through some simple drills of straightening and bending the arm. It hurt, but he didn't care. He needed to feel the movement. He needed to feel less confined, less helpless. The left arm he could do nothing about. It was still bound tightly across his chest, his hand resting just against his right shoulder. He wished he could move that one. The slight weight of his arm constantly pressing against his lungs was becoming unbearable. He couldn't breathe-
He walked back into the kitchen and stubbornly wrenched open the refrigerator door, bypassing the soft rope that had been tied to the handle for him to grip with his teeth.
He stood still until the fire in his elbow died down before scrutinizing the meager contents of his fridge. A pizza, several small cups of soup that were designed for him to be able to ingest without the use of a spoon, a handled basket with several pre-cooked and pre-cut pieces of chicken, a dozen juice boxes with the straws already inserted, a few bottles of water with the caps twisted off, and a bag holding some leftover fish sticks.
He scrunched up his nose in distaste at the meager selection of food, and the knowledge that he was expected to consume his meals like a common house pet eating from its bowl. He slammed the door shut with his hip. Sighing again, he slipped his arm back into the sling and meandered back into his living room. He contemplated for a few minutes over what to do next, unconsciously running the thumb of his right hand lightly over the elbow of his left arm – the only part he could reach when both arms were dutifully strapped in. Eventually, he decided a walk would probably do him some good.
Need to get some air.
"Tanner. Leave a message."
"Tanner. Leave a message."
"Tanner. Leave a message."
"Mr. Tanner, I'm simply trying to ascertain a time estimate of your arrival. If you would be so kind as to return my call at your earliest convenience, I would greatly appreciate it….Thank you."
"Tanner. Leave a message."
"Tanner. Leave a message."
"…You are coming, aren't you?..."
"Tanner. Leave a message."
"If you are going to cancel plans on a waiting party, it is customary to call and inform them. Simple manners, Mr. Tanner. I know you were not raised with them, but I had thought you would have grown enough to have learned some by now!"
"Tanner. Leave a message."
"I apologize. It was rather hypocritical of me to preach to you about manners while leaving such a rude message of my own. I'm assuming something of great importance must have come up; otherwise you would have been here. I won't bother you again."
"…damn kid, too damn caught up in his damn video games to answer the damn phone…Hello?"
"…yeah, I got it this time, Buck! Sheesh….Hello?"
"If this isn't a medical emergency, whoever this is had better have a good excuse for wakin' me up or it's gonna be."
"Buck, is that you? I swear if I find ou-"
*sigh* "Hospital or jail?"
"….Goddammit, Buck, it's quarter after eleven. Play your pranks on someone else or I'll suspend your ass."
*giggle, giggle, snort*
"...Whoever this is, you'd better speak up or hang up before my temper gets the better of my patience."
*snicker, snort, snicker*
"Lord, please grant me-"
"…who the hell?...Tanner."
"Quit messin' around!"
They weren't coming for him this time. He could feel the weight of the casket pressing down on him from above, stifling his air supply well before the dirt began raining down. He could hear the thud as the earth was toppled down over him, stealing away what little light he had for comfort. He began to panic as his lungs struggled to draw in oxygen from a space that no longer held enough of it to sustain his body. He couldn't breathe. Oh, god, he couldn't breathe, and no one was coming to help! He had been abandoned to his fait, to his grave...
I'm going to die.
"That's it, Buck! When I see you tomorrow, I'm gonna-"
*chuckle* "'m think I am…am…wuzza word?"
"Ezra, are you drunk?"
"Bingo! Indudibubbly wasted." *wretch, cough, moan* "Ohhh, thas a mess…"
"Of all the - Where are you?"
"Not in a hole, nossir. Got out…by myself! All by, all by… Ow! Tha wuz not polite, mister rock, tripping me up. I could…ffffallen."
"Ezra! Stop walkin' and tell me what you see."
"A game! Wonderful idea!…Lessee...I shpy with my lil eye…somethiiiiing…red."
"Please tell me you ain't bleeding."
"Pfffffff! No. That, sir, would be most silly." *giggle* "I don't have any band-aids. Duh! Oh!" *chuckle* "I sounded like JD."
*sigh* "Dammit, look around and give me something to work with so I can find your drunk ass."
"Ah ah, no hints, Mr. Jasson. It's is brick red – oops!" *snort* *loud whisper* "I gave it away!"
"You're lookin' at a brick? A brick building?"
"Hell, now I hafta start over... I spy with, with… What is that?" *snort* "I will call you back, Nathlin, a mystry must be investamated."
"No, Ezra wait, don't han-"
"Ezra, this you?"
*gasp* "Why, Mr. Laramee, how did you know? You shoul've told me you were psychic!"
"I'm not psychic, idiot, Nathan called me. Now where the hell are you?"
"I thought I saw a cat, but it was a rat!" *snicker* "I ran away."
"Where'd you run to, Ez?"
"Where'd you run to? I couldn't breathe…You weren't there…"
"What are you talking about?"
*thud* "Oof! Oh, this won't do. Mr. Laramee, I 'm no longer running." *snicker*
"Ezra, just tell me where the hell you are."
"…I have no idea… Uh oh." *gag, wretch, wretch, cough, cough*
"…You all right?"
"…I think I'm gonna missss my appoiment with Mr. Tanner. I hope he's not mad."
"Goddammit, Ez, are you wandering around Purgatorio?"
"…Chris? I think I'm lost…"
"Shit. Ezra, listen to me. I need you to find a place with a lot of light, somewhere public, and stay there, okay?"
"Light? There's no light, Chris. It's dark, jus like, jus like….Oh god, I can't breathe..." *short pants* "I can't… I don' wanna die in here…Hafta get out…I have to…."
"Please tell me you found him."
"Is someome lost, Josiah?"
"Ezra." *sigh* "Yeah, you are, brother. Why don't you tell me where you are? You got us all worried sick."
"I had to get out of the hole…again…How many times?... Why won't anyone help me?"
"We're trying, son, but we can't find you."
"…I don't feel good…"
"I know, Ezra. Just tell me where I can find you and we'll take care of you."
"I climbed…I climbed outta the hole. I found light. Mr. Larmee tol' me to find… I climbed up to the light…"
"…Ezra, are you up high?"
"I had to… The hole and the light…" *giggle* "Hey, I'm no' lost! I can see the Home from here. Do you think if I waved, the kids would see me?"
"No! Ezra, don't wave. You need to stay very, very still. I know where you are, and we're coming to get you. Just hold on. Don't move."
"Don't move?...Can't move… There's no room to move…no room t'breathe…"
"Lord, not now. Ezra, listen to my voice. You're not in that grave, you hear me? You can see the light, right?"
"Was there light in that hole?"
"There, see? You're up high where there's light, and plenty of fresh air, and you can move, but I'm asking you not to. I just don't want you to fall. You don't want to fall, do you?"
"...Now thas an absurd question."
*chuckle* "I'll take that as a no. Please, just sit still until we get there, okay? We're gonna come help you, brother."
I'm safe as long as I can see the light. There's no light in the hole, but there's light here. I can move. I can breathe.
As instructed, he gripped the railing of the water tower platform tightly, leaning slightly over it so he could maintain his view of the bright, blinking light above his head. He felt vibrations in the metal beneath him and winced.
"Oh no, not up here," he moaned. "Please, not up here. It's s'posed to be safe."
He looked up to see Vin cautiously making his way towards him. He smiled, pulling away from the railing, which caused the sharpshooter to freeze.
"Vin! You did come! I got confused…I think… Were you s'posed to get me, or was I to come to you? I didn't…couldn't remember… I believe I'm late for our… What were we doing, again?"
"Ah, Ez," Tanner said guiltily. "You're not late, and you were right, I was supposed to come get ya."
"Did you forget?"
"Yeah, I did. Sorry, pard."
Ezra took a step back, wavering dangerously. Tanner leaped forward latching onto his arm and guided him down into a sitting position. Ezra didn't even seem to notice the action as he stared at the sharpshooter in confusion.
"You forgot?... I was…I was…and you forgot?"
"Hell, Ez, we got called to help out on a bust last minute. It was a pretty rough one, lasted longer than it should've. I was tired when we got done and-"
"No excuse," he mumbled.
"You're right, pard. I should've remembered, and if I knew you were in trouble, I would've-"
"Yeah, I saw that when Chris called me to come help look for ya. I hadn't checked my voicemail before I went to bed. I should've-"
"I called again."
"Ya didn't say anything, Ez, and ya blocked your number. I didn't know it was you."
"Tha' was the idea, silly."
"Why's that, pard? Why'd ya call all of us just to not talk to anyone?"
Seemed like a good idea at the time…
He merely shrugged his good shoulder as he let his eyes drift over the edge of the platform. A wicked smile suddenly grew on his lips.
"Everyone's down there staring up at me."
"They're worried about ya. They're waitin' for ya to come down."
Go down…down into…
He shuddered, but shook the thought out of his head. "If I were to get sick from up here…"
Vin laughed, but gently pulled his friend back away from the edge. "I think after the night you've given all of us, if you puke on their heads they're gonna come up here and kill ya."
He looked at Tanner, flashing his gold tooth in a wide grin. "Nuh huh. If they wanted me dead, they would have left me in-"
They did leave me. They left me to die. Alone. Suffocating in the dark.
He felt gentle fingers beneath his chin, tilting his head so he could look into Vin's soft, but serious visage.
"We didn't leave ya in that hole, Ez. We got you out, and any one of us'd die before we ever let that happen to ya again, you hear me? We won't leave ya in the dark."
Ezra stared at him for a second, then burst out into near-uncontrollable laughter. He felt a hand on his arm, keeping him from rolling off the platform as he wiped the tears from his eyes.
"What's so damn funny?" Tanner frowned.
"You!" he giggled out. "'We won't leave ya in the dark,' So dramatic! Bravo, Mr. Tanner! Les' hear a round of applause!"
"Geezus, Ez, you really are hammered," Vin smirked, pulling his still-laughing friend to his feet. "Come on, let's getcha down from here before ya fall."
Ezra laughed all the way down the ladder.
Oh my god, my head…
"You gonna be sick?"
It was Nathan. Why was Nathan in his house? And why was he asking if-
Hands were on him, helping him to sit up as he emptied his stomach into a bucket that had magically appeared in front of his face. Several minutes later, he groaned as he lay back on the pillow, trying to press a hand to his forehead. His arm didn't move. The suffocating feeling instantly washed over him, and he sat up suddenly, taking in short, fast breaths as he struggled against his slings.
"Take it easy, Ez, you're gonna hurt yourself," Nathan admonished.
He forced himself to look at the concerned face of the medic, slowing down his breathing and willing his struggles to stop.
I am not in that hole.
"Here," Nathan said, handing up a glass of water with a straw sticking out of it and some pills. "Take these and I want you to drink this whole glass down. It'll help with your headache."
He did as he was told before tentatively asking, "What happened?"
"How much do you remember?"
It was dark, the weight of the casket was pressing down on my chest, I couldn't move my arms, the air was getting thin, I was dying…
He snapped his head up, refocusing his gaze, then lowered his eyes to his lap. He stared down at the quilt-
Mr. Larabee's quilt. I must be in his guest room-
-wishing he could pick at it in that soothing manner that kept his hands occupied when he was nervous.
"I was waiting for Mr. Tanner… I don't think I took it well when he didn't arrive."
Nathan snorted. "'Not taking it well' would have been kicking a chair or punching a wall, not finishing off every airline bottle you could get your hands on. Did you buy out the whole liquor store?"
"…I couldn't pour the bigger bottles… I was trying not to re-injure my arm…"
"Lotta good that did. You'll be lucky if the doctor doesn't add another week to your time, what with all the stress you put on those arms during your little adventure last night."
Oh god, I can't handle an extra week. Please, no more. I can't take this!
"We're not gonna tell his doctor, Nate," Chris firmly stated as he stepped into the room.
"He needs to get checked out, Chris. The climb up the tower, alone-"
"We're not tellin' him." Chris looked at Ezra when he said this, instantly putting a stop to his rising panic.
"…Thank you, Mr. Larabee." He didn't even try to mask the relief in his voice. He was too tired, and his head hurt too damn much to play hide-and-seek with his emotions. He was a mess, had been a mess since his premature burial, and now he was letting his friends see it.
"Why didn't you tell us, Ez?" Chris asked softly.
"…I thought it would just go away on it's own. I expected there to be…repercussions…from such a traumatic experience; it's only natural, after all. I'm just not coping with them as well as I would have liked…It's been difficult with my arms…my arms being…"
He closed his eyes, blocking out the memory. Another sudden bout of nausea hit him, and again, he felt the comforting touch of his friends as the partially-dissolved pain pills and the much-needed water escaped from his body. He could hear Nathan sigh.
"I'll get you some more. Chris, we better let him sleep this off some."
Chris nodded, patting Ezra on the leg. "We're gonna keep talking about this later."
Ezra didn't answer as he sank back into the pillows. Sleep took him well before Nathan could return.
What the hell is that beeping in my ear?
five minutes later
five minutes later
"I realize this only a form of retaliation against my earlier behavior, but ple-"
five minutes later
Just ignore them.
Why isn't my voicemail picking up the call?
"I have a headache, gentlemen. The incessant beeping isn't helping."
*snort, snicker, chuckle*
five minutes later
Good lord, what is wrong with those Neanderthals?
"This has gone far enough, don't you think?"
*whispered tones* "….Buck, don't!" …"Shhh, kid, he'll hear ya."
"I already hear you, Mr. Wilmington, now please-"
five minutes later
Please, lord, put me back in the hole. At least it was quiet in there!
"All right! You win. I'm coming out."
"About damn time. Thought you were gonna sleep all day. See ya in a few."
"Was that really necessary, Mr. Wimington?" he asked as he stumbled out of the guest room.
Buck and JD exchanged smiles. "Nope, but it sure was fun. No wonder you spent half the night prank calling us."
"I had an excuse. I was rather intoxicated."
And lonely…and scared…and, hell, just plain bored.
"No kiddin'. I haven't drank like that since I was JD's age."
Nathan took that moment to enter from the kitchen, and Ezra could practically feel the medic's eyes x-raying his insides. He was relieved when Nathan switched his gaze onto Buck and JD, fixing them both with an impressive glare.
"Did you wake him up?"
Both looked away from him, doing a horrible job at masking their grins.
"It's fine, Mr. Jackson," he stepped up in their defense. "I suppose I needed to get up eventually, and I rather deserved their vengeance."
"Shouldn't kick a man when he's down," Nathan snarled. Buck and JD's grins fell away, replaced with a guilty look.
"Nathan, could I trouble you for some more water and perhaps aspirin?" Ezra said with a sigh.
"Sure, Ez, I'll be right back. You two, behave!"
"Yes, Nathan," they both grumbled.
They're like children.
He sat down on the couch between them, feeling the need to have a safety net walled around him. He smiled at both at them, easing away their guilt, then hesitantly asked the question that he feared the answer to.
"So…gentlemen…could you enlighten me as to what exactly I managed to get myself into after the series of prank calls? I can't seem to recall anything beyond those…"
JD scooted close enough to the edge of the couch cushion that Ezra couldn't fathom how the young agent could remain perched in the seat. He spoke with his usual exuberance. "Well, we don't know most of it 'cause you didn't say much to anyone, but we went lookin' for ya at your place right after you called Natahan back and it was kind of a mess, and we found your slings torn to pieces on the kitchen floor."
He looked down in confusion at his strapped arms.
Then where did these come from?
"Nate wrangled those up from… I don't know, somewhere. Chris wouldn't let 'im take ya back to the hospital," Buck explained.
I'll have to thank him again for that…
"And then what, Mr. Dunne?"
Nathan stepped back into the room with the requested items, kicking Buck in the leg as a signal for him to move. Buck relented easily enough and Nate took up his position, dropping the pills into Ezra's mouth and holding up the cup so the Southerner could drink. He took up the story as he administered to his charge.
"You somehow got yourself out to Purgatorio and wandered around a bit, lookin' for Vin I guess."
"I was walking around Purgatorio, at night? By myself?"
"Yep. Stupid thing to do, too. Coulda gotten yourself killed."
Nathan proceeded to explain the rest of what he knew of the night's happenings to Ezra, who's own shock and dismay at his behavior was growing.
How did I manage to not get myself killed?
"I don't remember any of that…"
Buck laughed. "That's the funny thing about alcohol, Ez, kinda makes ya black out when ya have too much."
Vin, Josiah, and Chris pushed their way through the front door carrying groceries and a few suitcases. Ezra immediately recognized the bags and looks quizzically at his teammates.
"Why…?" he asked.
"You're stayin' here 'til ya get your arms back," Vin smiled.
Oh good lord.
"Just felt like someone should keep an eye on you, brother," Josiah said, winking at him.
"…Why?" Buck reached out and flicked Ezra's ear, earning him a scowl. "What was that for?"
"You were soundin' like a broken record, pard."
"Buck," Chris warned before turning to the undercover agent. "Surprised you'd even ask after last night. Obviously we can't leave you alone."
"Mr. Larabee, I assure you that there will most certainly not be a repeat performance of last night."
"Too bad," JD smirked. The young agent shrank back against the joint glares he received. "I was just sayin'… I mean, he did make a pretty funny drunk."
"He had his moments," Vin grinned.
"Moments you shall never see again," Ezra promised. "Gentlemen, I apologize for any inconvenience I've caused, and although I appreciate the assistance, I'd really prefer to just return home."
"Not happenin', Ez," Larabee stated, motioning for Buck and JD to haul Ezra's belongings into the guest room.
Ezra watched with growing irritation. They had gone into his home, rummaged through his things without permission, insisted on keeping him under constant watch, were completely disregarding his need for privacy, and would probably wake him at all ungodly hours-
To save me from the nightmares…
He felt Chris's eyes on him, almost boring into him, ready and waiting for the retaliation. Ezra didn't give it to him. Instead, he allowed his body to relax, the tension flowing out of him as he sank back into the couch. He relished in the fact that as long as he felt himself under that intense stare, he knew he couldn't possibly be hidden away, alone, in a dark hole in the ground. Nathan's soft touch on his arm, guiding it gently out of the sling and slowly working the elbow, was a welcome pain. He was being granted permission to move, he wasn't trapped in a suffocatingly small space. Buck and JD were arguing about something down the hall.
They probably broke something of mine and are trying to pin the blame on one another.
It was fine. The fact that he could hear them from his distance, and the knowledge that he was still around to care whether something of his got broken or not was comforting. Vin and Josiah were in the kitchen, Josiah reprimanding Vin on some of the food choices the sharpshooter managed to slip into the grocery bags. He smiled.
"I do believe you still owe me an evening out, and I'm sure some sustenance will do wonders for my current miserable condition."
"..Ya want hangover food?" Vin pieced together, a shocked look on his face.
"Indeed." Ezra flashed his gold tooth.
Nathan immediately went on the attack. "Don't you be gettin' him any of that greasy junk, now."
Ezra stood, nodding at a grinning Larabee as he followed Vin towards the door.
"Vin, do you hear me?" Nathan continued.
The sharpshooter turned in the doorway. "But Nate, greasy's the best cure for a hangover." And with that, they were out heading for the jeep.
Ezra's grin grew wider as he heard Nathan continue to curse Vin's name, and Josiah's deep baritone laughter a few seconds later. Buck and JD came racing out of the house, jumping into the back passenger seats of Vin's vehicle. Ezra merely shook his head as he climbed in in front of them, and JD reached over to buckle the seatbelt for him.
"Ezra, it's Chris. You better bring something back for us, too…." *chuckle* "Nathan says if you're getting fried chicken, he likes the drumsticks best."
"Noted, Mr. Larabee."
He hung up, laughing.
Three more weeks? Yes, I can handle that just fine…